detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

September 21st, 2016

detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

If you receive construction emails from us, you might know that we’ve installed vehicle detector loops at intersections with traffic signals. But if you’re like most people, traffic lights, and their various components [what are vehicle detector loops, anyway?] are probably one of those subjects you don’t give a lot of thought to. So next time you’re waiting for that light to change, here’s a primer on vehicle detector loops, and why you’ll be glad we’re installing them as part of our projects.

To begin with, vehicle detector loops [the technical term is “inductive-loop vehicle detectors”] are flat, loose coils of wire covered in light plastic, which are buried in the asphalt under the lanes at an intersection.

In York Region, most of our vehicle detector loops are approximately 4 metres square, and extend from the pedestrian crosswalk and across the stop bar [the wide white line going across each traffic lane at intersections] for approximately 15 metres.

The point of a vehicle detector loop is to detect when vehicles are sitting at the intersection. Vehicle detector loops are able to do this through a process of magnetic induction, which results when metal objects [i.e., vehicles] are nearby. Put simply, the presence of the vehicle results in a change in the magnetic field of the loop. This change is detected by the traffic signal controller [a large box located near every signaled intersection], which in turn sends a message to the traffic signal to begin turning from red to green.

York Region owns and or maintains 848 signalized intersections [traffic lights occasionally are used in other settings such as single lanes through construction zones]. Most of York Region’s traffic loops are located on side street lanes, in left turn lanes to activate advanced left turn signals, and on rapidways to detect transit vehicles.

The Region also uses “Matrix” vehicle detection, a pole-mounted system using radar imaging, in construction zones where lanes are moved, and where it’s problematic to install traffic loops. For more information on the technology of traffic signals, check out york.ca/intersections.

Ultimately, traffic loops improve the performance of an intersection, helping traffic flow by detecting you better.

 

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

September 14th, 2016

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

There’s a lot happening near Highway 7 and Jane Street right now. With the subway extension, bus rapidway, bus terminal, and commercial and residential buildings being built, it’s difficult to distinguish one construction project from the other. In the past week though, one project has become more visible.

In the middle of Highway 7, between Jane Street and the Highway 400 ramps, a huge structure is being built. The VMC-Spadina Subway vivastation will play an important part of this transit-oriented area, connecting Viva customers to the subway below.

The station is supersized with longer and wider platforms, and the roof will cover the entire rapidway. Customers will be able to access the concourse below via elevator or stairs to access the new subway extension or walk a few minutes underground to catch YRT or Züm at a new bus terminal.

A few fun facts about the station:

  • Single canopy is 50m long x 22m wide – bigger than the other vivastations to accommodate more bus and passenger traffic.
  • Steel structure assembled as three roof sections [now installed]; eight ladder sections [the first just arrived]; and 70 smaller infill sections.
  • Uses a combination of aluminum, painted steel, ceramic frit and tinted glass panels – overall, the station will appear light grey with blue and white accents.
  • Up-lighting will illuminate the lattice pattern of steel supports and glass panels on the roof.
  • Real-time bus arrival screens in station waiting areas, and underground at concourse level.
  • Heated and unheated waiting areas on each platform.
  • 100% coverage by security cameras.
  • Windscreens to block the prevailing wind – potential showcases for public art.
  • Hidden rainwater gutters and downspouts to drain water under the roadway.

The steel structure can be seen in the middle of Highway 7, and this will take a couple of months to put into position, and another couple of months of welding. As you’ll soon see, this station will make the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area look very different. And once it opens in 2018, will connect everyone to where they need to go.

 

learning outside the classroom

September 7th, 2016

learning outside the classroom

While your kids may lament the early mornings and long days that come with being back in school, there’s no denying the amount of pride they feel when they learn something new.  This fall, embrace learning by visiting York Region’s centres of culture and education.

Markham: Flato Markham Theatre

Located just off of Highway 7 at Warden Avenue, Flato Markham Theatre is a cultural destination for everyone, regardless of their tastes or interests.  This season, Flato Markham Theatre is housing a wide variety of showcases.  From concerts, to tributes, to dance shows, to local theatrical productions, there’s something for everyone, and with it’s convenient location at Highway 7 and Warden, everyone can get there with Viva.

Vaughan: Ansley Grove Library

Ansley Grove Library is attached to Chancellor Community Centre just north of Highway 7 in Woodbridge, and is home to a variety of books, magazines and multimedia materials in many languages including English, French and Italian.  The library also features a children’s room, where events for little ones are put on throughout the year. When you’re done, take an easy walk to Highway 7, where transit will get you home.

Newmarket: Elman W. Campbell Museum

Located on Historical Main Street in the heart of Newmarket, the Elman W. Campbell Museum serves as an educational connection to Newmarket’s history.  The museum is a non-profit educational centre created to preserve and display local artifacts. The Elman W. Campbell Museum also hosts events, including Culture Days open houses and family Halloween parties. This destination is a “can’t miss” for those looking for a compelling, educational outing, just a short walk from Viva Yellow.

These are just a few – every town or city has places to learn and experience culture and history. YRT and Viva will get you to and from the theatre, the library and museum, and since you don’t have to do the driving, bring some reading material and learn on the road! Wondering what your transit options are? Try downloading the YRT/Viva app!

 

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

 

connecting the drops

August 31st, 2016

connecting the drops

The importance of upgrading Canada’s infrastructure is everywhere in the news these days. Infrastructure includes everything from bridges to roads and transit, to utilities such as hydro lines, sewers and water mains. Each vivaNext project includes improvements to infrastructure and utilities, leaving a lasting legacy for residents and businesses. One of the most important pieces of infrastructure is a water main – bringing fresh water to your mealtime prep, your kids’ bath tub and even your local swimming pool. In Richmond Hill, the residents and businesses connecting to Yonge Street are getting a new, modern water main to prepare for future growth.

Although to some people it might not seem very glamorous, an important example of a major infrastructure improvement is the replacement of the Richmond Hill water main, which we’re doing as part of the vivaNext Yonge Street rapidway project. This work will replace 3.7 kilometres of water main along Yonge Street from just south of Garden Avenue [north of Highway 407] to Major Mackenzie Drive. The water main, which supplies water to the adjacent residents, is owned and maintained by the Town of Richmond Hill, with construction done by the vivaNext Design Build contractor.

Water main replacements, especially in busy thoroughfares like Yonge Street, require complex planning for design, staging and construction. As with all our work, we need to find a balance between a number of competing priorities. One priority is to maintain service to households and businesses who depend on the water main. Another priority is to get the work done in a way that minimizes disruption to traffic. And, as always, we need to plan the design and construction in a way that gets the most value for money, including future maintenance costs.

To avoid existing underground utilities and simplify construction, we’ll relocate the water main to run under the traffic lanes on Yonge Street. We also want to avoid locating it under the new planters that will be built along the sidewalk, in the event that future maintenance on the water main is needed.

Replacement water mains are generally located as close as possible to the original water main, to preserve existing connections to residences and businesses. As a result, construction proceeds more slowly to avoid any damage during excavation to the existing water main, which stays in use until the new one is ready for service.

To minimize disruption to traffic, workers will be building the new water main from inside a trench box, which significantly reduces the amount of space needed to carry out the construction compared to regular excavation. The benefit of constructing in less space is that fewer lane closures are needed during construction, which is critical on Yonge Street.

However, trench box construction has to move more slowly. The rigid trench box also makes it more challenging to work around conflicts with other buried infrastructure. From time to time we can expect progress to slow down while crews get around other underground utilities. Construction will be followed by a lengthy process of pressurizing, cleaning and testing, all to meet very strict government standards.

Once the new water main is ready to go, a new connection to each address along the main route will need to be made, along with additional connections to other water mains at intersections. Individual addresses are relatively straightforward to reconnect, but businesses and multi-unit residential buildings take longer, with connections to larger pipes and fire lines. This process of disconnection and reconnection will be planned ahead, with communication with each residence and business to minimize disruption.

We’re excited that the community is going to be getting a new water main, built to the most modern standards. Our team is working with the community during construction to help minimize any impacts to parking and driveways. And we’ll make sure there’s lots of clear signage to help guide you through construction areas.

It’s a huge project, and it’s going to be pretty messy out there for a while. But long term, it’s great news for the residents of Richmond Hill that this huge investment is being made in infrastructure. We hope this helps explain what the crews are doing out there, and how it makes a difference to the community. For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter.

 

back, back, back to school again

August 24th, 2016

back, back, back to school again

The sun is starting to rise later and set earlier, backpacks and fall boots are starting to come out of storage, and soon the featured flavour at your favourite coffee shop will switch over from mango pineapple to pumpkin spice. All of this can only mean one thing – back to school season is finally upon us. As the summer winds down, chaotic schedules and busy streets wind up.

Hopping on a bus along one of vivaNext’s rapidways is a quick and convenient alternative to driving, which can help you beat the busy streets. However, if you do choose to drive, we remind you to use caution, and keep an eye out for pedestrians, particularly in school areas. Construction continues on some of our streets, so please drive slowly through work areas with everyone’s safety in mind.

For any back to school shopping you have left to do, be sure to check out the plethora of shops in our construction areas >> Shop 7, Shop Yonge, and Shop Bathurst & Centre!

From all of us at vivaNext, we wish you and your family a happy, safe and successful school year.

 

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

green light, go light

August 17th, 2016

green light, go light

When it comes to traffic lights, there is a clear favourite: no one likes red, but everyone loves green. And those advanced green arrows are great, except that they never seem to last long enough. Seriously, traffic signals are one of those aspects of commuting that we all have strong feelings about. But what determines when a light changes from red to green, and how long that advanced green should last? Let’s try to shed some light on that…

There’s nothing random about the timing of traffic signal phases, and their design has only one goal: to move traffic and pedestrians as freely and safely as possible along our roadways. As with all aspects of civil and urban design, things are more complicated than they might seem, requiring clear priorities and tradeoffs to balance out everyone’s needs. Here are the basics.

In traffic engineering-speak, a signal phase refers to the operation for all approaches to an intersection [e.g., a red light will show for a side street at the same time as the main road has a green light]. A cycle is the entire combination of phases for an intersection [red, green, amber, advanced green etc.]. A cycle can range from 90 to 160 seconds [meaning if you miss a green light, that’s how long you could wait until the next one], although the timing depends on the intersection and the time of day.

Determining what phases are needed for the cycle, and how long each phase will last, reflects the needs of all users – including transit, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Some phases in the cycle length ensure that road users are not in conflict with one another [for example, drivers can’t exit a side street at the same time as drivers are going straight through on the main road]. Also, some users’ needs will be parallel within a phase – e.g., pedestrians, transit and drivers all travelling in the same direction.

Decisions about phases, and how long they last, take into account actual traffic volumes and how traffic patterns change throughout the day. Timing is designed to make the intersection work as efficiently as possible [meaning moving through the largest numbers of users], and minimize delays for all road users [although with many roads at or over capacity during rush hour, signal timing alone can’t solve congestion]. Signal priority is also provided to fire, ambulance and transit, where the signals change to provide priority right-of-way to emergency vehicles and some transit vehicles, without violating the pedestrian timings.

Timing for each phase is based on the minimum timings required by provincial standards. These include minimum timings for pedestrians, motorist and vehicle clearance [amber and red timings] based on several factors, including the width of the intersection, and traffic speed [posted and operating].

Proximity to other infrastructure also has an impact on priorities and the timing of phases. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation may have jurisdictional control over the timing of lights at some intersections, depending on how close the intersection is to a provincial highway off-ramp or railway crossing.

Ultimately, any one cycle has only so many seconds, and no one wants to wait longer than they have to. So the design of traffic signals needs to balance everyone’s needs, while working out the best way to move traffic through an intersection and along a thoroughfare, and minimizing delay for all road users. York Region’s Traffic Signal Operations department continually reviews and assesses the performance of the region’s 848 signalized intersections, and adjusts signal timing to get people moving as freely as possible. Please contact traffic@york.ca if you have any traffic signal concerns.

Whether you’re crossing intersections on foot, bus, bike or car, traffic signals are there to move everyone along safely.

 

that’s entertainment

August 10th, 2016

The towns and cities of York Region offer lots of fun, entertaining activities in the summer months. Whether you’re in the mood to catch a movie and play some games at the arcade, or you’re more drawn to live entertainment, there’s something for you!

Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

Located in the heart of the historic downtown area, the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts [RHCPA] is a state-of-the-art performance space that seats over 600 people. Featuring a variety of performances from acclaimed, professional artists, RHCPA performances celebrate the wide range of cultures in York Region. Follow the link above for schedules and ticket information, and be sure to check out the list of free summer concerts.

Newmarket Music in the Park

Every Thursday and Sunday night throughout the summer months, the Newmarket residents gather by Fairy Lake to enjoy an evening of culture, music and fun. Music in the Park is a free event hosted by the Town of Newmarket. Featuring performances from local entertainers, it’s a convenient, low-key evening that the whole family is guaranteed to enjoy. Come on out and support your local performers – they may just be the next big star!

Vaughan Colossus

Is there any better way to spend a humid, rainy summer day than taking in a movie with your friends or family? At Vaughan’s Colossus Cineplex, located right off Highway 7, you can catch all the latest flicks with your nearest and dearest. Additionally, Colossus is decked out with an XSCAPE Entertainment Centre, so you can spend time before and after the movie winning tickets for prizes in this interactive arcade.

If you haven’t visited one of these, add it to your list this summer – maybe it’ll be your new favourite place to go. York Region has lots of entertainment, and whether it’s indoor or outdoor, live performances or movies on the big screen; it’s all just a short transit ride away.

 

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

digging deep >> utilities at a glance

August 3rd, 2016

digging deep >> utilities at a glance

Before we can build dedicated rapid transit lanes, wider sidewalks, and plant beautiful greenery above ground, we need to go underground – to the world of utilities.

Our latest video peels back the layers to reveal all the modern conveniences we all depend on and often take for granted. We’ll shed some light on the steps we take to relocate critical infrastructure and explain why you see different crews come back to the same location as work progresses.

The most common things you’ll find are storm and sanitary sewers and pipes, water mains, gas mains, electrical wires, television/internet cables and phone lines.

We also take a look at the latest technology under the median and sidewalk planters , allowing trees and other plants to have deep, healthy root systems, and providing natural storm water management.

We’re just scratching the surface, but you’ll get a glimpse of how we replace and update infrastructure as an important investment that improves everyone’s quality of life.

 

dive into summer

July 27th, 2016

dive into summer

The towns and cities of York Region offer a wide range of indoor and outdoor athletic facilities which are open to the public throughout the summer months. Regardless of skill level, athletic prowess, or lack thereof, these destinations offer something fun and active for everyone. With easy access to our expanding Viva network, summer fun is right at your door.

Richmond Hill: The Wave Pool

York Region’s only indoor wave pool, The Wave Pool, is a destination with something to offer visitors of all ages. In addition to the central wave pool, this destination also features a twisting, 160-foot long water slide, a swirl pool and an on-deck sauna. If you’re looking for some family fun in a safe atmosphere, surf your way over to The Wave Pool.

Markham: Pan Am Centre

Built for the 2015 Pan Am games, the Pan Am Centre in Markham boasts an Olympic-sized pool with 10 lanes. A location suited for more experienced athletes, the Pan Am Centre hosts endurance lane swims throughout the week, on either a 25 metre or 50 metre course. However, if you consider yourself more of a spectator, the Pan Am Centre is home to a variety of competitions and events throughout the year.

Newmarket: Of Rock and Chalk

Located on Ontario Street, just off Davis Drive, Of Rock and Chalk is an indoor rock climbing facility in the heart of Newmarket. Decked out with over 46 different climbing routes, six different bouldering areas and a variety of other features, Of Rock and Chalk is guaranteed to be a fun time for the whole family. Additionally, Of Rock and Chalk offers a variety of courses and passes from a beginner’s course to individually booked climb time, making it an exciting challenge for people of all skill levels.

So whatever your activity while you’re out and about – chasing Pokémon, enjoying a community event or diving into your local pool – we at vivaNext are working hard on construction projects to add dedicated lanes for Viva to help you get there faster. We hope you’re enjoying this great summer!

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

adding shade and beauty to three parks

July 20th, 2016

As preparation for road widening got underway this spring along Bathurst and Centre, we were able to transplant 38 trees to three local parks in Vaughan. Watch the video to see how it went!

Here’s a quick background glimpse of the planning: During the final design stage of the rapidway project on Bathurst and Centre, all trees along the corridor were inspected and inventoried, and each tree was included in the construction drawings to see how they were impacted. While some were being removed for road widening preparation, those suitable for replanting were identified. Those removed will be replaced at the end of the construction project with even more planted.

We worked with the local community to identify locations to transplant the trees, and this June, the trees were transplanted in Bathurst District Park, Bathurst Estates Park and Rosedale North Park.  VivaNext is committed to sustainable options and transplanting trees is one of those initiatives.

 

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.